Chris Weaver has plied his trade for the past 30 years from the modest studio he built in 1980 at Kaniere on the outskirts of the remote coastal town of Hokitika. Weaver transcends what it means to be a potter: he has successfully prosecuted a union between the practical and the poetic to become Aotearoa’s foremost designer of luxurious handmade tableware.

Weaver insists on making objects only for practical use. Functionalism is the rubric under which his ‘aesthetics of usefulness’ has taken shape. His approach is to go beyond conventional modes of production that bequeath ceramic objects their familiar formal expression. In assembling examples of his work from three decades, this exhibition contemplates Weaver’s distinctive and unconventional oeuvre.

The basis of Weaver’s formal innovation derives from his reinvention of procedures and tools for making pottery. Since the advent of the pottery wheel, the form of ceramic vessels has customarily been determined by symmetry and its contingencies. The initial development of Weaver’s wares is consistent with this tradition — invariably, they begin with a cylinder thrown on the wheel. This, however, is where his adherence to convention ceases.

With the alacrity of an engineer and a haptic intelligence honed through intimate knowledge of the material affordances of clay, Weaver reconfigures the vessel by compressing, slicing, squashing, incising, faceting or simply flipping them on their sides. These meticulous operations give rise to immaculate form, crisply executed and with utmost fidelity to detail.

Weaver’s ambition is to create aesthetic interventions in quotidian life. He invests utilitarian objects with a character that elevates our experiences of everyday domestic ritual.

Exhibition design by Objectspace and Micheal McCabe.

Chris Weaver is a critically acclaimed potter who lives in Kaniere, east of Hokitika, Te Waipounamu. He first encountered clay as a young boy when his father was digging steps in a bank at the bottom of the family property in Nelson. From this clay he fashioned his first pots and a lifetime fascination for the possibilities of pottery began. Weaver graduated from Otago Polytechnic, Ōtepoti Dunedin, in 1976 with a Diploma in Fine and Applied Arts (with distinction) in design and sculpture and a Certificate in Ceramics. His work has been exhibited throughout New Zealand and in Australia, Germany, the United States, China and Japan. Over the course of his professional career Weaver has accepted many invitations to travel both nationally and internationally, demonstrating, teaching and exhibiting. He is the recipient of numerous national awards and grants and is represented in public and private collections within Aotearoa and abroad.

Richard Fahey is a senior lecturer within the School of Creative Industries, Unitec, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, where he has taught design and contemporary art since 1992. His research activity is focused on the material culture of Aotearoa. As an independent writer, critic and advocate, he addresses contemporary cultural production and its reception via the historical and institutional contexts of education, critical discourse, collection and exhibition. His research takes the forms of writing, curating and participation in the visual arts sector as a teacher, assessor and critic. Fahey has produced a number of curated exhibitions for Objectspace related to his enthusiasm for contemporary ceramics: Clay Economies (2008), Richard Parker: Master of Craft (2010) and Tender Brick: The Material Epiphanies of Peter Hawkesby (2021).

Chris Weaver, Iron Series teapot, 1993

Chris Weaver, Pillow Series teapot, 1997

Chris Weaver, Leaf Series teapot, 1998

Chris Weaver, Faceted teapot, 2016, photographs by Sam Hartnett